Mentally ill boys in the priesthood

“Be careful of who you admit to the seminary,” because there could be people with mental deficiencies among the candidates to the priesthood. Pope Francis said this in an audience with participants of a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy marking the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees “Presbyterorum ordinis” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests) …


The Pope told clergy that they must think twice when a young man “is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist”. Hence, his invitation to them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary: “There are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them”, such as “the police, the army and the clergy”….

Oh my, could these new rigid and authoritarian orders which cropped up in JP ll and Ratzinger’s time ever used this monitum. The Vatican ll priests looked on in horror at these underdeveloped and frightened neophytes who strutted their arrogance and their hilarious (but tragic) notion that they were bringing the Church back under a pope who acted more like a commissar than a wise pastor.

The prolific Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley, writing in the January/February 2004 issue of Atlantic Monthly, called then “the  young fogeys”, the trend of conservative priests  presenting themselves for ordination. Fr. Greeley observed, “These are newly ordained men who seem in many ways intent on restoring the pre-Vatican II Church,  and who, reversing the classic generational roles, define themselves  in direct opposition to the liberal priests who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Analyzing this disturbing development, Greeley described the lamentable failure of nerve which characterized the immediate post-Vatican II period, the sad attempt to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Greeley wrote:
The backlash after Vatican II was swift. Church leaders, realizing that reform had slipped out of their control, grew increasingly convinced of the need for the Restoration — a movement in which the upper clergy would close ranks and reassert their authority. Newly-appointed bishops would restore the rules; theologians who disagreed would be silenced and the old order would be established. Today’s young priests are rallying to the call.
All this under the Polish pope and his rigid enforcer Josef Ratzinger. It was what Karl Rahner called the beginning of the Ice age in Catholicism.
Now, under a Vatican ll pope, the ice is melting but poor Francis is surrounded by the wolves of the curia who yearn for the status quo ante when clericalism ruled the Catholic roost.
The young

fogeys are still around. Most went down fast when they found their arrogant brand of Catholicism was a non-starter. A few adjusted but the real scandal has been the JP ll bishops have not publicly demanded the obvious, a priesthood available to all believers. There is no vocation crisis. There is a courage crisis in the episcopacy demanding that all 7 sacraments be available to every baptized person.



1 Comment »

  1. 1

    Quite appreciate this article Ted. The systemic nature of our organizations.

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